Tomorrow we leave for home. It has been a wonderful, exciting and totally inspirational experience to train the first SF team outside of America. At the closing today, I was brought to tears as 35 women made their "Wish for the Child ren of the World". I have used this closing for years in my work with CAP and it never fails to touch my heart and motivate me to do even more. In a wide circle, I pass a globe and each person holds it and makes her wish. Although I was thousands of miles away, their wishes for "peace".."for a world where every child enjoys being a child" and "where children are loved and nurtured".....could have been the same wishes I heard in any state in the US. When we ended, they all hugged us good-bye and wishes us a safe journey and several said it was a life changing experience to learn of SF and "to be nurtured through such a powerful training." We laughed. We worked hard and, in the end, they are charged with training 1,100 ECE professionals across the entire country. They are psyched to do it and have 18 months to get it done! I wish everyone of you could have been there but realize , you were.....your support and encouragement has been so energizing for me. And you know, I always say, "women on a mission can be pretty dangerous!!" I will try again to send two groups photos- we trained 35 last week and 35 this week....so 70 women are home tonight thinking about parent cafes, parental resilience and the politics of marketing!! (Cannot send pictures again so will try on Monday from home)
Best to all,
And he loved it! Our Slovenian delegation met yesterday with Ambassador Mussimelli at the American Embassy in Ljubljana. He was most gracious and very interested in and supportive of the SF Slovenia project. He has pledged to work with me and with the Slovenian Ministry of Education & Sport to make sure we capitalize on any and every opportunity to keep it growing and thriving. Very exciting but also a bit intimidating to be in a US foreign embassy. Security is amazing.....they even took away my lipstick that was in my coat pocket! See attached photo. Ambassador next to me and to his left, the State Secretary of the Ministry, then the Protocol Officer of the Ministry and to his left, the Project manager, Mateja Stirn from the ISA Institute. PS..This message is telling me it can't download the photo so I guess I will have to send it out when I return home next week...sorry!
What wonderful group of people! This past week we trained 35 new Strengthening Families team members and they simply loved the expereince. They are so excited to go back to their preschools and implement some of the ideas and activities we all shared. And, as a side note, they are -in many ways - far ahead of the US on their relationship with parents. Although they felt they still had lots to learn and many more things to try. So, the training was wonderful, the evaluations were outstanding and they feel they are more than ready to serve as a model for other countries thinking about this kind of work.
i have my sights set on Croatia or the Phillipines next so we'll see. I have a few contacts in both and will work on that when I return home next week. For now, we are getting ready for another 4 day training starting tomorrow when 35 more trainers will be certified and ready to go! The project goal is to have 1,000 teachers trained in the next 18 months. A lofty task but these guys are so psyched, I think they can do it!
Many of them expressed a desire to have a "pen pal project" in the states so if any of you have a favorite preschool or if you yourselves would like to communicate with some of the team members, please let me know and I can put you in touch. I told them that many of the materials and ideas came from the US projects so thank you to all who responded to my e-mail in November and sent me ideas, materials and information. It was definitely helpful.
Well...another first! We taught the group today how to run a cafe and when they returned from lunch, the training room was transformed into a small cafe with candles on the tables and a welcoming atmosphere. Attached are a couple of photos of the groups participating in our SFS Cafe! Very fun! They loved it and gave extraordinary answers which I will log and tell you about later.
I am going to try to attach a few photos so you can meet your new peers! I tried this once and it didn't work so will try it again.
Just got here this morning but have been up for 28 hours so sleep deprivation is getting a bit of the the best of me! I have to learn how to sleep on planes - especially transatlantic flights. This is my 4th trip to Slovenia to teach about child abuse prevention - 2 trips previously were for the Child Assault Prevention (CAP) Program and - of course as you all know - the November trip was for SFS (Strengthening Families Slovenia). As we were driving here to Bled this afternoon from Ljubljana, I asked my friend Mateja if she ever gets tired of looking at the beauty of this majestic country. She answered quickly and simply, "How could I?" I have to agree. It is difficult to find words to express how beautiful the mountains are and the little villages nestled into them make them look quaint and inviting.
The women I met in November have sure done their jobs! They recruited more than 60 people for this training. By the time Eve Robinson( (my co-trainer), and I leave they will be charged with teaching more than 1,000 preschool teachers (from every district of the country) about the importance of working with families in a more collaborative and cooperative way. And, will be able to put the Protective Factors together in their work. It's quite awesome, really.
I am going to close so I can get some much-needed sleep. I will try - during our 8 days of working here to send some photos and to enter a note each night - if only to tell you what is happening and how proud I am to stand shoulder to shoulder with all of you who have helped me so much with ideas, suggestions and materials.
Strengthening Families Slovenia
There is lots of excitement in this beautiful alpine country! In addition to welcoming in 2011, they are welcoming a new way to interact with families and – in turn – to prevent child abuse and neglect.
On January 16th, 30 trainers will begin a four day seminar on SF. They represent the 15 regions across the country and will be comprised of child care providers, parents, administrators, community leaders, and political representatives. On January 25th, 30 more trainers will be participating. Eve Robinson, Director of one of CSSP’s original exemplary centers, will co-train with me. Using our varied experiences in direct service and administration, we hope to provide a very balanced approach to SF.
Many thanks go to NJ, WI, RI, MA, AR, ID, AK, GA, IL and the Alliance for sending materials and offering valuable suggestions. At this point, we have so much we hope they will leave asking for more. When I was in Serbia a number of years ago, one of the women there summarized that situation beautifully: “Give them little cakes so they will search for the bakery”. You, my friends, are “the bakery” – the resource for all good things about SFECE!
I am hopeful once these 60 trainers start implementing this approach; they will want to communicate with some of you as mentors and friends – some “sister projects” they can call on for advice. After all, their world is not that much different from our own.
I will speak to Martha about a daily blog we might do while over there…if folks are interested. Right now, besides getting this training over and done well, our goal is to find a way to get a couple of them to DC in the Spring for the SF Summit. I’d love them to meet all of you – and vice -versa!
Thanks for all your help. I’ll keep you updated as best I can.
It is always helpful to actually see names and faces, so here are some images to help you envision the work in Slovenia.
“The Strengthening Families concept opens new ways of working
with preschool children and their parents. It will be challenging,
but we do it for the better lives of our children and this makes it
even more beautiful.”
This comment was made by one of the 15 women on the Slovenian Strengthening Families through Early Care & Education (SFECE) Leadership Team. Like so many Slovenian people, she expresses herself beautifully, with an almost poetic charm. But her words are more than rhetoric; they reflect a strong commitment to make Strengthening Families Slovenia (SFS) a reality.
On November 25th, while most Americans were carving turkeys and watching football games, I was in a conference room at the Ministry of Education and Sports in the capital city of Ljubljana . . . . (to read the rest of the article, click here).